What's the Deal with Millennials? Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, January 17, 2019 0 comments

by Steve Risner

Today I wanted to change gears a bit because I heard something on the radio that piqued my interest and got me thinking. After I looked into it, I found it to be generally true and a ton of people are writing about why. I'm not one to follow trends, but I've connected a few dots that I think many are missing. Or perhaps they don't want my observation to be true, so they ignore what seems to me to be fairly logical. What am I talking about? Millennials. They are a very large portion of the population around the globe. Millennials are those age 14-34 give or take, or some say those born between 1981 and 1996, or more vaguely those who reached adulthood in the early 21st century. However you slice it or wherever you feel this particular generation lands, some glaring issues are surfacing.

Millennials (aka Generation Y) are the most unreligious, undevoted, apolitical generation in our history as a nation. However, this unreligious people group is also the most medicated for anxiety disorders, the most depressed, the least happy, and the most suicidal generation we've seen, according to some. Obviously, numbers can range on these issues and it can get muddy to figure out some solid stats, but it seems like this generation is trending this way. Let's see what's up here.

There are just short of 2 billion millennials in the world, and about 75 million of them live in the US. According to Pew and Science Daily, fewer millennials consider themselves to be religious than any other previous generation. I said above that they are “undevoted” because they are also very unlikely to associate with a political party (although most vote in favor of progressive/Democrat candidates or issues) and are less likely to consider themselves to be patriotic. So, the undevoted idea comes from the fact that they have, in general, decided to not associate with any major “groups” that most other generations would affiliate with—religious affiliation, political affiliation, or love of country. Associated with this is the fact that a larger portion claim to not believe in God. They are far less likely to trust anyone, as well.

Psychology Today reports that Millennials have higher levels of anxiety, stress and depression than any other generation at the same age. The American Psychological Association found that Millennials report more stress than any previous generation. It seems striking, to me at least, that they are also less capable of dealing with it.

Generation Y has the most negative outlook on the future when compared to other age groups. About one quarter of them believe depression is normal, especially as we age. I would wager that since many if not most will be on some sort of depression or anxiety medication before they retire, this makes sense. It must just be part of the aging process to be unhappy, depressed, or otherwise mentally burdened, although for me that is a strange idea. But Millennials generally feel they've been dealt a bad hand in life. They feel everyone else has had it easier than they have it. Again, I guess this is not too surprising that they are significantly more depressed than other generations. So, why?

There are all sorts of reasons, and I think at least some of them are intertwined—one feeding off of another. Millennials are having a hard time getting married and, if they do, it's usually later in life. There are many healthy benefits of marriage. In general, you're just happier and healthier overall. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but it's the trend for sure. There are even some healthy results to having children. I bring this up because In 1980, parents would have children, on average, at age 22. For Millennials, it's 30 and nearly half of those first time mothers are not married. And the number of children being had by American families (or by American mothers, more accurately) is declining. It has been that way for decades.

So, in short, Millennials are having fewer marriages and fewer children. Our society might be in trouble. I'll not get into the amazing strength that often comes from the nuclear family, but let's just say God designed it that way for a reason. He's blessed the family unit of mom, dad, and children, but that's another topic for another day. This, I feel, is one reason Millennials are less happy and more depressed and anxious.

Another reason: technology. Screen time is high for Millennials (it's actually high, in my opinion, for most age groups but Millennials are very high). Gen Y'ers spend a half hour longer with their face in a screen than Gen X'ers, with a about 141 minutes of screen time daily! This has a two-pronged detrimental effect. Let me show you why.

Studies show that “screen time” harms us mentally. Technology overload is a leading cause of anxiety, social isolation, and stress in general. Still, we can't get enough of it and we seem to even know it's bad for us. Quartz puts it this way:

“Every year, teens are asked about their general happiness, in addition to how they spend their time. We found that teens who spent more time seeing their friends in person, exercising, playing sports, attending religious services, reading or even doing homework were happier. However, teens who spent more time on the internet, playing computer games, on social media, texting, using video chat or watching TV were less happy.”

What this means is that, generally, activities related to screens produced less happiness while activities not associated with screens were associated with more happiness. They go on in that article at Quartz to explain that if a teen spends 5 or more hours a day with his/her face in a screen, he/she is twice as likely to be unhappy when compared to teens who spend less than one hour with a screen-based activity. That's remarkable, isn't it? The take home message with this part is to spend time doing other things. Rather than live a virtual life through a screen, get out and be active, doing REAL things. Your health and happiness depend on it.

The second prong is the financial stress that technology may place on a person. The poor of our country, generally, have far more than the upper classes of most other cultures. If you make over $32,000 a year right now, you are in the top 1% of all human beings currently living. Wasting your time on social media or playing a video game is rarely profitable financially and often distracts us from actually doing work that pays the bills. Financial stress is one of the reasons Millennials say they're super stressed. That's part of the “bad hand” they've been dealt. But financial stress, or not having enough money, is relative and generally over diagnosed.

There has never been a time in the history of the world where people have had more money and stuff than right now in the United States. The poor of our country generally have far more than the upper classes of most other cultures. That's half the national average, by the way. Those living in poverty in the United States claim a higher standard than the average European, and today's Americans in the lower ends of financial security still have far more than most of our great-grandparents ever dreamed. Americans today enjoy a higher standard of living, greater economic security, longer life expectancy, less crime, and more leisure than any people group in the world's history. Yet we have a generation that is depressed or anxious about their financial health. I won't get into a psychology post here, but it seems we're comparing ourselves too much with others and not even doing a good job of that.

This is where we'll end this week. I've given some statistics and facts about the generation we commonly refer to as “Millennials.” Next week, I'm going to express what I feel are the real or most penetrating reasons for the Millennials’ trend to be the most medicated and most depressed generation in our nation's history. I thank you for reading and hope you'll stick with me.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.